Often in the solar lighting industry, we receive calls asking for a system to meet a need in an area where power is not feasible to bring out, but then months later, the customer tells you they decided to bring power out to the area. This becomes a frustrating reality because most people see the system cost, and instead should look at the overall project cost. Let me explain.
A single solar lighting system cost can have a bit of a sticker shock. A single solar lighting system can have a range of around $1500 to sometimes $10K depending on the options needed. Decorative lights that are required for aesthetic purposes or high powered lights that are required for high lighting level needs are on the higher end of that spectrum where lights that can reduce or shut off, are more standard, or are used for smaller applications can be on the lower end of the spectrum. Your quote should have this information as well as complete system specifications and information on exactly what you are getting.
Installation cost can vary between various projects. Setting a single pole with a solar power assembly can have an installation cost of $500 to over $2500, but the cost of installing an AC light can vary in the same field. Bringing AC in by having to trench in the AC power, this cost can go WAY up comparatively. This is where installing a solar lighting system can easily beat the costs of traditional powered lights.
Another area that can affect a solar vs AC installation is the cost of dealing with surrounding infrastructure. If the light needs to be installed in the middle of a parking lot and there is either a break in the line or you have to bring in the power as it wasn’t previously existing, one should take into the cost of tearing up the concrete to get the AC lines over to this spot. This can increase the downtime and costs by multiples.
Overall project costs can vary depending on how many lights you need to have installed. If it is a new project looking for lowering costs or providing a NETZero solutions for their installation, project costs can be on point with traditional AC installations. If AC power already exists and is fully operational, or located nearby, then standard power can cost way less than solar is for purchase and installation. Looking at a single fixture cost compared to an overall project cost can show a very different aspect.
Long Term Cost
Finally, long term costs are not something many people think about. Solar powered lights, if sized and manufactured correctly, should have little to no maintenance and have very little costs over their lifespan. AC lights have a cost every month for the energy being used and depending on if the lights are owned or leased, to pay for these fixtures. The only reoccurring costs for commercial solar lights should be battery replacement over 20+ years which can cost less than the monthly costs of AC lights.
Sticker shock can be a real thing in the solar lighting world, but looking over the course of many years, and the overall project, solar can be very affordable. There are also many ways to help reduce the initial costs such as looking at tax credits, grants, and other financial benefits that are available for utilizing renewable energy. Looking at all aspects of a project and not just a system cost can help you understand the actual costs that will occur over the life of the project.